Third Canto Chapter Eleven
In this eleventh chapter the division of time periods known as Manvantara, the longevity of Devatas, humans and others has been covered.
Maitreya Maharashi said to Vidura, “The subtlest particle of matter which cannot be further sub-divided is known as an atom. When this atom combines with other atoms, it becomes the cause for creation. The combination of many atoms appears like a material object and puts people under illusion that a different object exists. These subtle atoms manifest as the visible world.
The collection of earth and other basic elements which have atoms as their subtle elements, existing in their original forms without combining with each other, is known as Mahat tattva. At this stage of completeness, transformations such as creation and dissolution do not exist. There is nothing called past and present time period. Different objects such as Sun, Moon etc., do not exist at such time.
In this manner, just as the subtlest and the greatest principles i.e. atoms and Mahat exist inherently in matter, we should understand that within time also subtlest and greatest principles exist. Time energy is a manifestation of the Supreme Lord. The ever-powerful time pervades all through the created objects and divides them.
This time pervades through the atom, which is the subtlest particle in the creation, and exists therein in tiniest form i.e. as the smallest measurement of time. Pervading everything right from creation and up to dissolution, this time also exists in a supreme form i.e. greatest time.
Two atoms combine to form a molecule. A combination of three molecules i.e. combination of six atoms is called trasa-reṇu (hexatom). Trasa-renu is visible to the naked eye. When rays of sunlight enter a dark room through the medium of the window holes, many tiny particles can be seen floating towards the sky. These tiny particles are trasa-renu.
(Calculation of time periods starting from trasa-reṇu)
The time taken by light to cover a distance of 3 trasa-renus is the period of time known as truṭi. 100 such truṭi form a vedha. 3 vedhas form lava.
The time taken by light to cover a distance of 3 lavas is the duration of time called nimeṣa. Three nimeṣa form a kshaṇa. 5 kshaṇa form a kāṣṭha. 15 kāṣṭha make a laghu.
15 laghu make a ghaṭika or nāḍika. 2 ghaṭika is called a muhurtam. In this small differences could be noticed at times. Days could appear longer than nights or vice-versa. Based on this calculation, time equivalent of 6 or 7 muhurta forms a prahara. This is commonly referred to as Yāma or Jāma (aprox 3 hours).
Take a copper pot which weighs 6 pāla (14 ounces). At the bottom of this pot pierce a hole with a golden wire whose weight is equivalent to 4 grains of black-gram seeds and which is four fingers long. Keep this copper pot on water. Water enters into the pot through the hole. When the pot is filled with water up to a certain level (known as prastha), the pot will sink into the water. The amount of time taken for this pot to sink into the water is known as nāḍika or ghaṭika.
For human beings time equivalent of 4 jāma is morning and another 4 jāma constitutes night. Morning and night put together forms a day for human beings. 15 such days constitute a fortnight (paksha). Based on the waxing or waning moon, the fortnight is known either as Śukla paksha or Krishna paksha.
Ayane cāhanī prāhur vatsaro dvādaśa smṛtaḥ
Saṁvatsara-śataṁ nṝṇāṁ paramāyur nirūpitam
The period of two fortnights (śukla paksha + Krishna paksha) constitute a period of one month. This is one day for forefathers. A period of two months is known as Rutu (season). A period of six months is known as āyana. There are two āyanas viz., Dakshināyana and Uttarāyana. One set of two āyanas i.e. 12 month period constitutes one year.
One year of humans is equivalent of one day for the Devatas. Vedas declare that the duration of life of human beings is 100 years.
The Supreme Lord, together with Sun, Jupiter and other planets and together with the 27 stars beginning with Ashwini, resides within the universal orbit and rules over it. Kāla (time) pervades everything right from an atom and until the year. During this period of a year the Sun travels through the 12 zodiacs. It is due to this movement of the Sun, that we are able to understand the wheel of time. They are of five different types.
The time taken by the Sun to travel around the 12 zodiacs is 372 days. This is the period of one year and is called samvatsara. The time taken for Guru (Brihaspati) to travel from one zodiac to another is known as Parivatsara. Considering each month to be exactly of 30 days, the 12 month period or 360 days time is known as Idavatsara. Based on the movements of the Moon, the time period of 12 months ending with the new moon (amavasya) is known as Anuvatsara. Based on the movement of the Moon and the Stars, the period of 12 months, in which each month has only 27 days is known as Vatsara. These are the different types of the time period called year.
Among the five basic elements, Sun is a luminous body. This luminous Sun, through the medium of its energy called time, enlivens the causative factors that lie dormant within the causes of creation. Through this he enlivens all living beings. He dispels the illusion caused due to spiritual ignorance (ajnana) in humans and he travels through the three planes of existence (triloka).
To those who worship him through the medium of Yagna and other rituals, he bestows auspicious results such as heaven. In this way, it is the Sun who exists within the five different types of year. He should be reverentially worshipped” said Maitreya Maharishi.
Hearing this, the virtuous Vidura questioned, “O Mahatma! You have explained about the longevity of humans, forefathers and Devatas. Now please explain about the duration of life of those supreme beings, who are beyond the three planes of existence and who have crossed over the Kalpa. O worshipful one! Being the personification of the Supreme Lord, you definitely will know about the movements of time in totality. Accomplished beings of your cadre observe this world through the medium of the intellectual eye.”